We Deliver What The Customer Wants: Microsoft

by Julia Fernandes    Jun 02, 2005

Much has been said, discussed and written and dissected on the Microsoft vs Linux issue, which triggered off with the first interview, which CXOtoday conducted with Rob Enderle, followed by Con Zymaris, CEO of Cybersource Pty. Ltd. stoutly defending Open Source and Linux.

As we wrap up this highly interesting series, Abhijit Das, manager, platform strategies and security mobilization, Microsoft India Pvt. Ltd., shares his company’s perspective on this highly contentious issue.

Firing the first salvo we asked as to how real does Microsoft perceive the threat of Linux and Open Source?

Replying to this Das said, “The IT industry since its inception has evolved, in each and every sphere, be it applications, hardware, software, etc. Microsoft too has at every stage of its evolution encountered competition, whether it was Wordstar or WordPerfect, or whether it was Lotus 123 in spreadsheet applications, or Borland Presentation graphics, or the fight of the browsers. In fact, Microsoft has gained market share precisely by competing against these various technologies.”

“However, on the server side, Windows is comparatively younger than Linux, as Linux has been around for quite long. Actually, Windows is a late entrant. So, despite the presence of competition, from other players such as Unix, Novell, Mainframe, it is finally what the customer chooses to buy. It is he who decides,” reiterated Das.

According to a school of thought, Linux and Open Source spur real innovation as they remove the prohibitive overhead of closed source software. Vehemently disagreeing with the view, Das said, “When a company invests in technology, it takes into account all aspects, total cost of ownership (TCO), security, reliability, stability, support skills. For e.g., post-deployment issues such as user-friendliness, manageability, etc.”

“If you look at the pricing models of the different flavors of Linux, you will come across some recurring charge or the other. Whether the source code is visible or not, that is not the issue, some overheads are visible, while some are not,” pointed out Das.

According to him, every enterprise faces a set of challenges, with a clear focus on deriving business benefits. “The primary factor is how to address these issues irrespective of whether the source code is open or not,” affirmed Das.

“It ultimately boils down to what a customer requires. Any enterprise that invests in technology, will definitely want to achieve business benefits. They put across their requirements and based on that we design products/solutions. It finally scales down to how enterprises achieve benefits by investing in a particular technology,” stated Das.

But what about the innumerable security flaws and vulnerabilities that besiege Microsoft’s products?

Answers Das, “Three years back, Microsoft had launched the trustworthy computing initiative, where security by design was one of the pillars.”

Explaining further he said, “In security by design, as technology keeps changing we realize that a code has become vulnerable at a later stage and we accordingly release a patch based on customer feedback. Ever since we have launched the security by design, the number of flaws has reduced substantially.”

According to Das, security is not a technology challenge; it is process dependent. “For e.g. in the year 2001, when the Nimda virus was spreading across the world, few were actually aware that the patch for this virus was released 331 days before the virus was created. We need to create more overall awareness about security,” concluded Das.